The Self Build Self Help Site The Build Process

A one-stop shop of information for people interested in self build - whether self building a complete home or undertaking an extension, renovation or modification.

The Build Process
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Tasks Notes Some non-obvious things needed
1st fix electrics, Ground floor The cables running through the 1st floor joists will service the ground floor. At this stage, the cables will run down the block walls, or studs for timber frame houses, before any dry lining / rendering. Normally we get the electrician after the plumber - he can more easily work around the pipes already in place. Ensure that, where the cables have to be put through joists, they are put through the middle of the joists where they won't get pierced by any nails/screws used to fix the floorboards/plasterboard at a later date.

The end result of this stage is cables and back boxes for switches and power points and cables to external lights etc.

Floor boarding 1st floor The floorboarding can be put down if the windows are not in, by closing the window openings with temporary windows - usually made from polythene sheet stretched onto batten frames and fixed to the outside of the window openings with masonry nails.

Unless a real wooden floor is required, the normal floorboarding is comprised of sheets of 2400mm x 600mm tongue and groove particle board (chipboard). Timber frame houses usually use a special particle board, which is similar but is more waterproofed - it is usually put down before the roof is put on.

Such particle board floorboarding is best put down with a nail gun, use 40mm nails. Make sure that the nails are not driven in too far as this may cause the boards to squeak if there is insufficient length of nail in the floorboarding.

This is where you will find it difficult to get a level floor if the joists are not gauged.

Mark where the underlying pipes are on the floorbards as they are put down - so that they can be avoided when fixing the stud partition sole plates to the floor!

Note. Where you are preparing for areas that will be tiled, use plywood of the same thickness. Tiles laid on particle board may produce hairline cracks where the particle board sheets meet.
PVA glue to fix the tongues and grooves. Off cuts of board and hammer to press the boards together - and use a utility bar against the wall to do the same.
Plasterboard ceiling 1st floor Unless you have taken any of the internal block walls up through the first floor, you will be able to plasterboard from one end of the house to the other. Best to use a screw gun rather than nails, as the fix is much better. This is where you will find the centering of the roof trusses is critical. If the centres have been allowed to vary then you may need to plant battens to the side of the errant trusses in order to fix the ends of the plasterboard.

Ensure the cables for the lights and smoke alarms come through the plasterboard.

It should be needless to say - be careful regarding the exposed stairwell.

Where a sloping ceiling is involved, insulation precedes the plasterboarding. In addition, to prevent the risk of condensation, a vapour control layer is fitted on the room side of the insulation.

Screw gun and 40mm screws

Plasterer's trestles and scaffolding planks are usefully employed here

1st fix carpentry - 1st floor Stud partitions - now a matter of putting the studs between the floorboards and plasterboard ceiling. Noggins will have to be fixed between the ceiling joists where the head plate is to be fixed.

You will need to put extra noggins into the stud walls for where shower units, basins, toilets etc are to be fixed. These noggins could be offcuts of floorboarding to give sufficient leeway for when the fixtures are fitted. These can be seen in the relevant picture gallery.

You can put plasterboard on one side of the walls at this stage, especially where the power points are to go, as long as you leave access from one side for the plumber and electrician.

Although some power points are designed to be clipped onto the plasterboard, you may wish to put noggins in for the power point boxes to be attached, to give a firmer fixing.

Door linings

These must be put in well - plumb in both directions so that hanging the doors is not compromised. The width of the door linings must be chosen so that the plaster is left flush with the edge of the lining - the architrave should then go on like a dream.

Window Boards

These are put in now so that either plaster board (for dry lining), or render, can be applied to a good fit around them. It is not the end of the world if the plasterboard / render is done first, or even if the plastering is also done first. The plasterboard will have to be cut away, or render chased away, to fit the window boards afterwards, and then some 'tidying' carried out.

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